A very good introduction to the early history of Islam. Unlike books by other western scholars who at times suffer from prejudices against Muslims, Barnaby Rogerson is fairer in his telling of the story of Islam. This is not to say that it is completely devoid of such elements, but I was pleasantly surprised by his reading of early Islam.
Orthodox sunnis often question the divine wisdom in events from these early years, one of the questions that pops up often in conversations is the battle of the camel. After reading this book one thought got lodged into my head – he argues towards the end of the book that Hazrat Ayesha was a central figure in the scholarly activities in Medina while the political power shifted to Syria – for Muslims who have concerns about this battle they should look at the fruit of that battle: as result of the power shift most of the sahaba decided to stay in Medina, they were free of the responsibilities of managing the huge Islamic empire and thus were able to exert efforts to preserve the sayings of the Prophet and teaching it to others.
To anyone who is interested in the early History of Islam this is a useful and readable starting point.